Old-time rivalry. Must-win situation. Season on the line.
Fortunately, the Dallas Cowboys were facing one of the worst defenses in the NFL, the lowly, snake-bitten Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys defense is worse.
The Redskins started Sumbudy Oranother in place of franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III; yep, the Redskins’ season is so stinko that RGIII has become RG Nada for the rest of the year to keep him from getting hurt in meaningless games.
Still, by the midway point of the second quarter the Cowboys looked outmatched despite clinging to a 7-6 lead. That old familiar dread crept into my heart, the same ominous feeling that preceded last week’s collapse against Green Bay, and the even more epic collapse the week before against Chicago.
And then came…The Stiff-Arm.
The Cowboys were mired at their own 6–yard line midway through the second quarter. First down and 94 yards to go on a day when nothing was going right. First play — the center snapped the ball, Romo moved three stepped to his left and handed the ball to DeMarco Murray, who was running an off-tackle play to the left. The blocking had broken down and it looked like Murray was going to get snuffed for a two yard loss. But he cut right, spotted daylight, and churned forward. For a second his legs become entangled with an offensive lineman and Murray almost tripped. But he skipped past that near-tragedy only to be met near the line of scrimmage by a Redskins safety. But Murray stuck out that big side of beef he calls a left arm, and stiff-armed that safety right in the face, knocking him back a yard. Murray sprinted for 43 yards, prompting one of the announcers to compare him to Eric Dickerson. The offense finally sparked and drove downfield, scoring on a touchdown pass to Dez Bryant. The score jumped to 14-6, the momentum turned, and the Cowboys awoke from their stupor.
The Redskins had time and opportunity to score before the half ended, but the Cowboys defense came alive and ended that drive with an interception.
All that was left to do was wait for the Cowboys to come out in the second half and finish nailing down the coffin lid on the Deadskins.
Sure enough the Cowboys came out in the second half and drove down the field. The game looked secure. Next stop, the Eagles. Playoffs. Super Bowl.
And then came…The Fumble. Cowboys fullback Tyler Clutts (seriously) fumbled. The Redskins recovered and made it look easy driving the ball right down the Cowboys throat. Score: 14-13.
Next series Romo threw a clunker pass that was intercepted, once again placing this team’s hopes and dreams in a defense that couldn’t stop the Golden Girls. Score: 14-20.
Boom boom: 14-23.
Then, deep in Cowboys territory with a third and four situation and the game on the line Romo threw to a double-covered Terrance Williams, who had no chance of making the catch. And then came…The Catch.
Williams somehow snagged the thing. Kept the drive alive. The Cowboys got a field goal, put themselves within six points, and provided Romo with yet another chance to be a hero and to defy his reputation as master choker and perennial December flameout. With 1:42 on the clock it was fourth and goal from the 12. Not just fourth and goal, but fourth and season, fourth and reputation, fourth and career, fourth and everything.
Touchdown! Romo to Murray. Choke on that all you Romo haters. Eagles here we come.